Sacrificial Jar in the Shape of an Archaic Zun
Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Qianlong period (1736-1795)
porcelain with blue glaze
5.75 x 3.625 x 3.125 inches
This sacrificial jar is a charming example of the Qing devotion to Chinese history. Its shape derives from an archaic zun, a form first seen during the Shang dynasty (c. 1700 – c. 1050 B.C.E.). Found in burial chambers, the larger Shang zun was a wine vessel used in rituals honoring ancestors. The handles, often in the shape of a ram’s head, formed a more naturalistic type of taotie (a fearsome, imaginary creature of great power that was a favorite motif of the Shang). The monochromatic glaze of the Qing vessel hearkens back to Song-era ceramics. Yet the light blue color is a Qing innovation. This sacrificial jar was most likely a gift for someone in mourning. These Qing wares were made by special order and used by the emperor and members of the imperial family.
The British Museum, object: 1936.11-18.1
Kerr, p. 27